A Standoff in the Shop of my Employ

Yesterday, a young man on a date

approached the register and asked,

“What are these?”

and I said,


because they were cookies,

but that was only partly true.


“Cookie sandwiches,”

I elaborated,

“They’re gluten-free.”

I knew that because I worked there,

not because of the disease that makes me know things.



he scoffed, stepping back from the counter just a hair,

“so they’re probably terrible.”

He waved his hand over the cookies,

denouncing this title upon them.


“They’re actually pretty delicious,”

said I in the cookies’ defence, still smiling.

I had eaten several

over the course

of my time working there–


chocolate chip

cookie sandwiches,

somehow delicious while


free of dairy, soy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and GLUTEN (!),

that toxic bane!

that demon in the dough!

that kraken of the cracker

that had plagued me six years hence!


The standoff could have ended there,

with a recommendation for cookies,

except the man parried.


“But what IS gluten?”

he asked, adjusting his stance,

stepping forward again.

“Can you tell me that?”


He asked, “Can you tell me that?”

as though this knowledge

lay beyond the realm of human thought,

as if gluten were a sentiment

only vaguely considered

toward breadlike effects,

with no real physical existence.


“Can you tell me that?” he asked.


And I could, because of the disease that makes me know things.


And I did.



without hesitation.



I gladly replied.

“It’s a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley!”


“Oh,” he said,

deflating a little,


I didn’t think anyone actually knew that.”


There are few victories won

for those

with intestinal maladies

–most of them involve staying alive,

and eating food

that tastes semi-normal.


But every now and then,

you can make a dude look dumb

in front of his girlfriend.

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